Home Painting Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Period particular fx: THE LOST MATTES OF RUSSELL LAWSON

Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Period particular fx: THE LOST MATTES OF RUSSELL LAWSON


Hello there fellow fans of that marvellous, magical and totally beguiling misplaced artform of conventional matte portray and old-fashioned trick images.  It is that point as soon as once more for NZ Pete to unwrap one other parcel of ingenious and sometimes superb hand painted movement image processes from the photo-chemical period, or as my good friend Mark Wolf would say, “B.C – earlier than computer systems”.

On this, the ultimate article for 2021 (and possibly for good given the state of the world because it stands at current) I wish to delve into an thrilling treasure chest of by no means earlier than seen goodies that I am fairly assured will enthrall a lot of my common readers, and more than likely just a few irregular readers as nicely(!)

The majority of at this time’s weblog put up covers the misplaced 35mm pattern reels of previous Russ Lawson matte photographs that had been hidden away in storage for the reason that late 1950’s.  There are some improbable earlier than and after photographs on this exceedingly uncommon assortment of Common Studios oldies, which for this fan, is pure heaven.

Along with the previous Lawson showreels, I’ve additionally together with just a few different gems as nicely, comparable to a take a look at the consumate visible results professionalism that was matte artist Geoffrey Dickinson – an integral a part of the small but a lot cherished British film studio, Ealing.  As if that weren’t sufficient, I’ve additionally recovered one other ‘misplaced’ matte shot, this being an Albert Whitlock shot that wasn’t utilized in SHIP OF FOOLS.  Lastly, I’ve come throughout a pair of fascinating earlier than and after mattes additionally painted at Common for the primary George Lucas EWOK telemovie that simply occurred to be tacked onto the top of one of many aforementioned pattern reels.

Oh, and in closing…  As you already know I acquired a crate load of great authentic mattes just lately.  I am instructed that one other of my fellow New Zealand countrymen additionally ordered a sizeable cargo, although simply who, I do not know.  In the event you occur to be a reader of Matte Shot, I might like to know what marvellous work you acquired.  My guess could be a sure movie maker of these grand Tolkien epics, who has an enormous personal museum of Hollywood props, art work, vfx artifacts and so forth.

So, with that…. allow us to board the bus and begin the journey………..

Get pleasure from

NZ Pete

***This put up, and all 173 earlier blogs often known as ‘Matte Shot’, have been initially created by Peter Cook dinner for nzpetesmatteshot, with all content material, structure and textual content initially revealed at http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/




This spectacular matte shot was rendered by British matte artist Geoffrey Dickinson for the gritty crime drama POOL OF LONDON (1950). The sequence proven right here was a sophisticated meeting in additional methods than one.

Geoffrey Dickinson was Ealing’s photographic results supervisor for a lot of years, normally display credited as ‘Particular Processes’.  Dickinson was the resident matte painter on many movies produced by the studio from the mid 1940’s by way of to his ultimate image the yr he died in 1955.  The studio was well-known – not only for being the oldest regularly operational movie studio on this planet – however for {the catalogue} of timeless British classics that have been enormously in style with, not solely the English audiences at dwelling, however all through the Commonwealth international locations, and, presumably to a restricted extent, in America.  Movies comparable to KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS, WHISKEY GALORE, THE LAVENDER HILL MOB, SCOTT OF THE ANTARCTIC and the superb THE NIGHT MY NUMBER CAME UP are all classics and are as wanted at this time as they have been when first launched.  Dickinson was, and just about stays to at the present time, a kind of inventive enigma’s of the UK movie business, as have been so many ingenious visible results craftsmen, who acquired little or no by the use of a point out.  Geoffrey did nonetheless get on display credit score for a lot of movies throughout his years with Ealing, and for that at the least we ought to be grateful.

The dizzying ‘leap of religion’ shot from POOL OF LONDON, with Dickinson’s elaborate matte portray mixed with a partial stay motion plate, and all of this serving the premise for a brilliantly executed travelling matte described in an fascinating article in regards to the Ealing results division in Brit. Kine on the time because the ‘split-beam course of’, the place the backing is illuminated with blue gentle and the foreground actors with yellow gentle, in a lot the identical manner because the previous Dunning Course of.  The 2 movies are uncovered in the beam splitter digicam with the yellow lit foreground on panchromatic movie and the blue lit backing on particular blue-sensitive movie.  The latter produces a sillhouette of the foreground picture, with the movies mixed within the optical printer.  The advantages of this course of being a whole lack of fringing across the ultimate matte.

Dickinson (centre) and his vfx digicam crew are proven right here establishing a foreground glass shot for the basic Alec Guiness movie THE MAN IN THE WHITE SUIT (1951) – a really darkish satire certainly.  Geoffrey additionally served as scenic artist on a number of movies, so I am assuming he got here from that lengthy line of British backing painters who, over time, merged into specialised matte and glass shot work.



A couple of months again I did an in depth article on the vfx for the Stanley Kramer movie SHIP OF FOOLS (1965), and illustrated for the primary time, the unique Albert Whitlock mattes – painted in color as actually they have been for what was a black & white movie.  One specific matte portray stood aside, as I may by no means discover a matching scene within the movie to correspond it with.  The thriller is now solved, because the matte was certainly composited and completed, although evidentally fell sufferer to the editor’s scissors.  I am glad to report that superb deleted shot, although unused, can now be seen and appreciated.

One in all a lot of spectacular work created by Al Whitlock for SHIP OF FOOLS, although not seen by audiences.

The wonderful ultimate composite just lately uncovered on Al’s previous pattern reels.  For these unaware, ALL of the photographs of the ship at sea in that movie have been fully fabricated by Whitlock as matte artwork at Common.  Solely the very close to ocean right here is actual, with the distant sea, ship, sky and so on all painted on glass.  Moreover, the clouds drift slowly in layers and smoke rises from the stacks.  As per Al’s non-negotiable most popular technique, all accomplished on authentic damaging for optimum decision and high quality.



I used to be thrilled past perception to obtain the digitally transferred masters of the remaining 35mm pattern reels of a broad choice of Russ Lawson’s mattes that to my shock had been saved within the temperature and humidty managed vault that the late Invoice Taylor had rigorously conserved 1000’s of vfx parts comparable to the entire previous Albert Whitlock showreels courting again to the early sixties, in addition to the later Phantasm Arts work, pictures, preparatory sketches and different materials.  I’m enormously indebted to my good friend Tom Higginson for kindly sharing these extremely uncommon authentic earlier than and after mattes with me, and most significantly, of their authentic ‘film’ format, as they have been meant to be seen. 

Common of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s – flat, scope, monochrome and Technicolor.  The emblem all the time revved me up as a child, watching Saturday matinee’s at my native revival image theatres, with exhibits like THIS ISLAND EARTH blowing my younger thoughts.

It was widespread business apply for a lot of a long time for mattes to be a excessive, virtually secretive specialty commerce, with a number of the practitioners themselves seen as a part of the branding train as proven right here as a ‘Lawson Matte Shot’.  

Common had a reasonably ingenious photographic results division because it started again within the early silent period.  Among the many heads of division for the VFX facet have been Phil Whitman within the early and mid 1920’s; Frank Sales space took over from Phil from the late twenties; George Teague did a really transient stint in addition to chief however did not final lengthy; the legendary John P. Fulton was in cost from the early thirties by way of to the mid to late forties; John’s very long time assistant David S. Horsley managed the division from the late forties till the mid fifties, whereby Clifford Stine was given the headship for round 5 years.


On the matte portray facet of issues, the pioneering Norman Daybreak – just about regarded by most within the enterprise as the inventor of the movement image matte shot – was Common’s matte knowledgeable within the very early days and conjured up many superb photographs and methods.  British born artist Conrad Tritschler, I consider, was engaged for a time portray mattes (more than likely for the unique Bela Lugosi DRACULA and others), and someplace within the early a part of the thirties each Jack Cosgrove and Russell Lawson teamed up as resident in-house matte painters.  Jack departed within the mid thirties for David Selznick’s up and coming studio and by no means regarded again. A couple of years later future Manufacturing Designer John DeCuir got here on board as a younger apprentice in Lawson’s division and painted many mattes with Russ, on and off, between 1939 and 1946.  DeCuir’s son instructed me some nice tales about his father working for Lawson:  “Because the story goes Russ took John beneath his wing. Russ managed up John’s abilities from illustrator into matte artist. John instructed me his first task from Russ I recall he mentioned his first day at work, Russ got here in and dropped an enormous rock on his desk – dust, shit and leaves flying in all instructions and mentioned “paint this”, after I cannot inform if it is a {photograph} or not we are going to go on to portray clouds, after which Russ went up on the roof to take his lunch time-nap. After rocks Russ instructed him to color the clouds outdoors his window. He was about to stop when he obtained his first actual glass matte to color.  As Russ’s roof high naps obtained longer, Dad discovered himself working the division and would have stayed there besides he went into the Navy (WW2) about 1941-44. – After the conflict he got here again to Common as an artwork division illustrator and he relaxation was/is historical past.”  

A basic golden period Common matte shot from the Bela Lugosi DRACULA (1931), could also be certainly one of Lawson’s however more than likely executed by British artist Conrad Tritschler, with Frank Sales space as head of particular results on the time.

As is well-known, the Common matte division would finally go from Russell to Albert Whitlock round 1962 or so.  What is not well-known is the truth that each Russ and Albert labored collectively for a time.  Al’s very long time good friend and affiliate, Syd Dutton, kindly shared some historical past of the occasions, as instructed to him by Albert.  “Albert and Russ did work collectively briefly, however I don’t know if it was on Taras Bulba, however the time line suggests it may have been. I’ll watch the movie and provide you with my impression if there have been two arms engaged on the matte photographs.”

“Al instructed me that he had struck a take care of Common, however beneath the situation he wasn’t supervised. Russ began to critique a portray of Al’s and Al shot again that Russ wasn’t his supervisor. Russ, so the story went, mentioned “We’ll see about that!” and stormed off. After seeing the powers that be, he returned and mentioned that Al was appropriate. It will need to have been a frosty relationship.”

“Al mentioned that not lengthy after, the proprietor of a bar throughout the road from Common died and left the institution to Russ, who was his finest patron and good friend. Russ got here into the portray studio along with his new discovered wealth and mentioned to Al, “It’s all yours!”…..and that was that.”

Lastly, I’ve by no means been in a position to monitor down any picture’s of Lawson, sadly.  John DeCuir’s son instructed me just lately he nonetheless has a big storage field of previous Common matte division memorabilia from the 1940’s, together with earlier than and after 35mm frames – many being of the varied Arabian Nights style footage – and images of matte work.  I had hoped to see a few of this excellent materials to flesh out this weblog piece, however sadly, nothing got here of it.

So then, listed below are the misplaced mattes from the previous pattern reels.  Some are fairly abnormal, some are actually good, and some are jaw dropping.  I do hope you get pleasure from them.

As talked about, I used to be solely in a position to determine about half (if that) of those movies, although this shot I do know.

From the comedy movie KATIE DID IT (1951).  A really good shot with some fascinating perspective allowances.  Observe the true tree within the foreground added as a separate bi-pack factor to raise the shot out of it is static look.  Common did that sometimes, as did Warners, although MGM beneath Newcombe have been gung ho with dropping in such ‘precise’ parts over the work.

A partial composite with a location airstrip matted with a separate stay motion factor of air visitors staffers at high proper.

The attractive completed multi-part composite with Lawson’s gorgeous sky, smooth matted in in addition to an airstrip stuffed with fighter planes.  Sadly, I’ve no clue as to the movie right here, and I’ve seen lots of of previous conflict footage (love ’em).  Anyone recognise this?  In all probability from the late 1940’s.

Simply the total and ultimate composite right here, and once more, a thriller as to title.

This movie I do know.  It is the Errol Flynn melodrama ISTANBUL (1956).  This body is from the unique unmatted stay motion shoot, with this set finally being reworked into not one, however two completely different matte photographs…

The primary of the 2 mattes, with a effective rendering of the port and metropolis of Istanbul, with the famed Blue Mosque within the distance.  I visited this metropolis in 2008 and loved it.

The identical setting as seen later after a bomb goes off, with a revised Lawson matte portray.  I’ve solely ever seen this movie on YouTube in an terrible ‘pan & scan’ full body version, probably recorded off television, so many of the matte was cropped off badly. Observe, this CinemaScope movie was in Technicolor however the ravages of time have been extraordinarily unkind to the movie inventory.  I’ve tried to make it simpler to view because it was ‘pure magenta’.  

One other thriller movie.  Be aware of simply how a lot of the stay motion plate will should be changed with Lawson’s art work, as proof beneath will exhibit.

The ultimate shot from what seems to be a late 1940’s or early 50’s conflict movie, of unknown title.
I made a blow up of the mid portion in order to exhibit the entire invisible ‘filling in’ that Russ rendered to the army camp, little question as a buget saver.  This type of trick work actually sums up ‘particular results’ for me.  As Albert Whitlock usually acknowledged:  “the true particular impact is the one which no one ever notices”  More true phrases have been by no means spoken.
Stay motion Technicolor plate from an unknown manufacturing.

Completed matte comp which seems to have an obvious English setting.

Very small space of stay motion to be enormously expanded…

Once more, the manufacturing is a thriller.  One thing set in tropical climes on a plantation?  The attitude draftsmanship is a bit off, with the fountain at left all out of kilter, although I am certain no one ever notices these items.

A plate for a fairly expansive matte as seen beneath…

A fantastic shot, and probably a deleted shot from a slightly good little thriller known as PHANTOM LADY

 (1944) directed by Robert Siodmak, which had different comparable mattes involving railway settings and lookalike actress.  *Noteworthy as a taut movie to look at truly, because it crossed the censorship boundary of the time with the great character actor Elisha Cook dinner jnr (no relation) portraying one of many display’s most perversely creepy, deviants ever – positively oozing with sleaze, which can have had audiences choking of their popcorn again within the day!  Ya’ heard it right here first!!  😉

Now, this one was fascinating.  At first I believed I knew it, however was misguided…

It had the look and design of a really comparable matte in Alfred Hitchcock’s wonderful SABOTEUR (1941), although the clapper board information urged in any other case.  Totally different director and cinematographer chalked on, except in fact it was shot as a second unit?  Hmmmmm?

The finished shot.  Certain seems like the identical cabin and forest from the Hitchcock movie as proven from a more in-depth angle?

Stay motion factor from one other unidentified Common movie…

I’ve tried to analysis this primarily based upon the director chalked onto the slate and the date, however to no avail.

The ultimate composite – certainly one of a pair on the pattern reel from the identical movie.

A second view from the identical unknown manufacturing demonstrates {a partially} assembled, multi-element shot…


Last outcome.  Noteworthy because it surprises me how Russell would run his matte strains by way of sky and alongside edges of clouds, which to me appears very daring.

This present I recogised.  This unmatted plate was for the Rock Hudson conflict movie BATTLE HYMN (1957)

matted plate

Composited however not but full …
For the eventual launch prints the BATTLE HYMN matte shot was flopped optically.  This BluRay seize exhibits how a lot was misplaced from the badly pale previous 35mm footage.
Sorry of us…. this one’s one other thriller.

A Technicolor interval movie, seems prefer it’s set in New York, but shot at Common.  Any takers?

Simply if you thought I did not know any titles, nicely this one I picked simply.

The stay motion practice (probably a miniature?) has been matted into an in depth painted setting right here for the Joel McCrea western CATTLE DRIVE (1951).

Stay motion element that may be invisibly built-in into matted surroundings…

Plate masked off for matte.  Observe the parts of precise sky left seen.

I believe I’ve seen this movie however in all probability by no means picked the shot as being a matte.  Cannot place the title, however the mixing could be very nicely accomplished.

One other unknown present, however probably the identical interval movie that at the least three of the Lawson photographs on this weblog tribute originated from.

Stay motion at Common…

Invisible mix bringing the painted along with the set.  Movie unknown however vaguely acquainted?

Earlier than you surrender all hope of us, this one I can affirm!  It is EAST OF SUMATRA (1953), and a reasonably entertaining journey it was.

The very good composite which concerned not simply the stay motion foreground and painted metropolis of Singapore, however a separate painted sky transferring throughout slowly.  Lawson had a peculiar behavior round this time of intentionally taking pictures the painted sky factor ‘out of focus’, presumably to aim to melt the clouds.  It by no means labored and all the time regarded synthetic to me.
Singapore was very, very dodgy in these days, with many a treacherous cut-throat and numerous girls of questionable morals at each road nook…. or so I am instructed 😉
Undecided, however this pre-matted plate in all probability from EAST OF SUMATRA as nicely.  I’ve seen it, however could have missed this shot, or fallen asleep, or not taken it as a trick shot, as YouTube is the worst potential venue to see previous movies, high quality sensible, so I keep away from on the whole.

Fascinating how a number of the authentic, lengthy tucked away color 35mm reels look excellent, whereas others look shite.  Some 40 odd years in the past I labored in movie distribution right here in New Zealand, with huge again catalogue product in 16mm, 35mm and even some in 70mm.  As I recall, launch prints from varied eras had notable variations.  The previous real dye-transfer course of utilized by Technicolor (I believe known as imbibition) produced stunning, wealthy color, impervious to fade and really troublesome even to scratch through frequent projection and rewinds.  These previous prints from the 40’s onward nonetheless regarded nice within the early 80’s after I was there, although shrinkage might be an issue, leading to movie perforations typically barely out of whack throughout projection.  Technicolor labs phased this apply out, possibly within the mid 70’s.  Later launch print expertise nonetheless, moved away from this tried and true high quality, with Eastmancolor kind chemistry and printing nowhere close to that of imbibition for lasting the space. Totally different base movie shares for prints additionally performed a component, with Estar, Acetate and the dire Nitrate being particularly unforgiving! 

Sure, I do know this one too…. Three cheers for NZ Pete!

Common cornered the film market when it got here to vibrant desert adventures, that normally sat on the decrease half of the double invoice.  This grand shot is an actual magnificence from THE GOLDEN HORDE (1951). 

Very darkish, however this stay motion plate is of a small walled culvert from what will likely be an Arabian palace.

Extraordinarily darkish (and I’ve lightened it up so far as I dare) ultimate shot from the laughable Tony Curtis sword & sandal desert flick THE PRINCE WHO WAS A THIEF (1951).
Simpler to see right here, with an alternate shot from the DVD.
A standing set on the Common lot that was utilized in many a manufacturing over time.  This arrange is for the pirate journey YANKEE BUCCANEER (1952), the place an excessive amount of alteration will likely be carried out courtesy of matte painter Russ Lawson and fx cinematographer Roswell Hoffman.

Hardly any a part of that standing set will likely be retained…

When all is claimed and accomplished, the small quantity of backlot facade has been extensively augmented by Lawson, together with a kind of intentionally ‘out of focus’ cloudscapes drifting throughout.  An extra stay ocean entrance and rocky foreshore plate has been shot and matted in by Hoffman to finish the phantasm.  The painted mix between the set and the ocean is basically good.
Because it seems on BluRay, with all expertly assembled, besides that damned ‘blurry’ sky, which form of kills the entire affair!

Additionally from YANKEE BUCCANEER is that this stay unmatted plate which can finally increase the horizons of this swashbuckling fodder.

Ross Hoffman’s rigorously positioned matte.

From Hollywood to Jamaica.  Seeing is believing.
YANKEE BUCCANEER because it seems remastered in all it is vivid Technicolor glory.  
A snuck this one into the earlier weblog put up as a teaser…

This standing riverboat set appeared in tons of Common films, although this specific one I do not know.

A most grand and expanive vista certainly.  I believed it may have been from the Yvonne de Carlo movie RIVER LADY (1948), however can’t be certain??
As I discussed within the earlier weblog, this mighty shot, oddly, did seem within the John Wayne image THE COMANCHERO’S (1961), which was a twentieth Century Fox flick, and was ‘optically scanned’ as a tilt down digicam transfer for CinemaScope besides!  I had all the time assumed it to be an Emil Kosa jnr matte shot for years, having seen that 1961 movie, however clearly it pre-dates the Fox present.  Plainly Fox’s Invoice Abbott, who ran their fx store, lifted/begged/borrowed/stole/acquired this shot from Common – under no circumstances uncommon as fx photographs from questionable origins usually seem in different studio’s movies.  George Pal was notoriously low-cost when it got here to this, with scores of ‘his’ key fx photographs in his movies being lifted wholesale out of different, older movies… and even profitable an Oscar at one level!  Although I digress….
Now of us….. this one’s a doozy, in each sense of the terminology.  I needed to play this reel a lot of occasions simply to take all of it in.  I’ll clarify as we go alongside, so concentrate, as I will likely be asking questions later…  The movie is one other Common ‘B’ image, of some financial system, however not with out it is deserves – this shot being certainly one of them.  The movie is DESERT LEGION (1953) with Alan Ladd.  The plate proven right here fashioned the premise of an enormous and indulgent matte composite, which you will note shortly.  Matte cameraman Ross Hoffman shot this on location with the total intention of isolating particular parts solely to make use of later, as you shall see…

DESERT LEGION: A separate plate was manufactured from distant horses (I believe)…

DESERT LEGION:  One other plate added, with different stay motion horses or riders…

DESERT LEGION:  Added to the jigsaw puzzle is a plate of white water rapids…

DESERT LEGION:  Additional additions by Hoffman embrace one other plate of some completely different rapids…

DESERT LEGION:  Moreover, Ross has shot and dropped in a river flowing into the space.  **Observe:  Pete will likely be very bloody aggravated at any reader viewing this all on some fucken cellphone sized piece of crap!  🙁

DESERT LEGION:  …and it simply retains getting extra difficult.  Now Ross has mixed footage taken from that very first full body of stay motion, with the waterfall factor remoted in addition to a portion of the foreground brush with the riders on horseback as nicely.  “Are you following me? … Effectively stop following me or I will have you ever arrested” (**the nice thinker, Groucho Marx)

DESERT LEGION:  Okay, so now let’s have a look at… rapids, white water swirling, river, distant fields with horses, extra horses, waterfall, foreground folks, a partridge in a pear tree – and, oh sure, the primary of two painted mattes by Russ Lawson!  All particular person items of movie… and we’re nonetheless not accomplished!

DESERT LEGION:  The magnificent completed visible impact jigsaw puzzle, all seemlessly assembled on Ross Hoffman’s optical printer.  Extremely clean collage of quite a few items of movie.  Bravo!

I made a detailed up of the Russ’ art work.

That previous riverboat set once more, although simply what movie this plate is meant for, I dunno?  The ultimate proven beneath is sort of cleverly accomplished.

Composite, in Technicolor, although not in order you’d discover it!

Identical film, night time view.

One other doozy of a matte, that I assure no one would ever detect within the ultimate model…  This full body plate (in color…apparently) was made within the desert (apparently).  See beneath…

For a similar unknown western, a second plate was shot of a typical cowboy city set…

City set masked off by Ross Hoffman for some slightly skillful trickery…

Right here is the place the enjoyable begins.  Hoffman has matted the desert footage into the city footage, although with particular parts remaining, which will likely be blended in by Russ.

The completed impact, not in order you’d ever count on it to be a trick shot.  The 2 plates have been expertly blended with delicate matte portray to tie all of it as one genuine western setting!  Good, although I want I knew the movie?  I might more than likely by no means even spot the ‘trick’ anyhow!  Bravo!

A blow up of the unpainted space.

Refined matte artwork pulls the phantasm collectively flawlessly.

Additionally included on Lawson’s reels was this avalanche sequence from the James Stewart western THE FAR COUNTRY (1955), with Clifford Stine as visible results chief.  

The sequence was principally a break up display affair, with miniature mountain matted onto stay motion.  I am guessing Russell could have painted on the shot to mix the 2 collectively, with the rocky outcrops at left and excessive proper showing to be added in later.
Curiously, the tumbling boulders all appeared to have exactly ‘drilled’ holes seen as they crash towards the folks, making me assume the miniature rocks have been pinned in place someway and launched on cue.
As seen on the DVD, with correct color!
Stay motion arrange for one more thriller Common movie.  The constructing was a daily standing set on the studio backlot, and was seen in numerous footage and television exhibits over time, as a rule as a part of a matte shot of 1 type or different.

Stay motion restricted to a small piece of wall and driveway previous to addition of portray.

Reworked into the Inexperienced Island On line casino for thriller movie.  Cameraman Ross Hoffman has added an extra water plate in addition to a blinking neon signal and smoke rising from the chimney.

I am most interested by this scene, and wish to know simply what the movie is?

Minimal stay motion added to Lawson’s sweeping, interval European setting.

I knew this one as quickly as I noticed this ‘earlier than’ plate… It is from Douglas Sirk’s emotionally shrill menage-a-trois WRITTEN ON THE WIND (1956).

Ross filmed the unique plate full body Academy ratio after which had it optically diminished and repositioned to suit the matte portray.

Lawson’s portray completely married into Hoffman’s stay motion plate.
The shot because it appeared within the Technicolor launch prints.
WRITTEN ON THE WIND begins off with this night time time view of The Hadley Oil Firm HQ, with blinking animated signage above.

Unmatted stay set for an additional Douglas Sirk image, ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS (1955).

Matte painted panorama and added architectural options.
The scene because it seems within the movie, with Rock Hudson in foreground.
A variation as an evening sequence.
A lot optical work was wanted for a seemingly straight ahead scene in CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY (1944), with this small soundstage set to be prolonged considerably.

The orchestra is remoted initially.

A bunch of extras have been photographed within the left facet…

…and the identical extras repositioned within the center…

...and subsequently moved to the acute proper…

With the crowded auditorium assembled optically, Lawson was then required to color within the balcony seats and patrons at excessive proper, in addition to architectural additions to the stage and proscenium.

I’ve lightened this ultimate CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY body for clearer viewing.

Partial set on a sound stage for a night matte.

Portray mixed from an unidentified Common image, illustrated earlier in a daytime shot.

Painted set extension utilizing that acquainted backlot homestead, as seen right here in THE CREATURE WALKS AMONG US (1956).



What follows are a sizeable choice of a number of the different matte photographs carried out by Russell all through his very lengthy profession at Common.  As one would count on, there are a selection of memorable mattes from the quite a few science fiction and horror footage that served as Common’s worthwhile bread and butter all through the a long time, starting within the early 1930’s by way of to the late fifties.  As talked about, Russ teamed up with the legendary Jack Cosgrove within the early few years at Common and for a time at Columbia in addition to a few so-called Poverty Row institutions in Hollywood.  After a few years Cosgrove moved to Selznick Worldwide, the place he and cameraman Clarence Slifer arrange the a lot acclaimed matte and photographic results division.  Russ would stay at Common for the rest of his profession, working intently with studio results cinematographer Roswell Hoffman.  The one precise display credit score Russell would acquire was for the large funds TARAS BULBA shortly earlier than his retirement.

In an e mail I acquired from the son of John DeCuir, who as talked about, labored with Russ for a number of years, he acknowledged:  We too are digging by way of the archives and just lately got here up with an exquisite assortment of 35mm bi-pack digicam check strips from these Russ Lawson Common days (mattes dad was portray for Russ). The movie strips are brief solely three to 6 frames. They appear to be in fairly fine condition – the subject material was principally Arabian Nights however extra detective work is required to ID the precise movie(s). I’m certain you’d have the ability to assist there. When time permits I’ll get the strips scanned and we will share the detective work. We even have some B&W prints of the half-black half-painted glasses.”

I am hopeful that these will grow to be out there sooner or later and shared on a future weblog.

‘Lights, digicam, motion’

A spectacular Arabian metropolis – considerably of a specialty for Lawson, together with gothic castles – from the film THE GOLDEN BLADE (1953).  Not unusually, this shot cropped up an different comparable movies of that ilk.
I like previous time horror footage, and previous time matte photographs as nicely.  It is the romanticism of the artform from again then that appeals to me enormously.  This 1932 model is certainly one of quite a few.
An arctic CinemaScope matte from THE PERFECT FURLOUGH (1958)

Each Russ and fellow artist Jack Cosgrove labored on THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935).
An distinctive matte for BENGAL BRIGADE (1954).

A uncommon non-Common Lawson task was the formidable disaster-end of the world present DELUGE (1933) – a movie that was fairly daring for it is time, each with gung-ho results sequences, but in addition with staggering pre-code sexual assault sub plot.
A low key Common-Worldwide western, CAVE OF OUTLAWS (1951), had a few fascinating mattes.

Additionally from CAVE OF OUTLAWS was this wonderful Lawson shot.

From the very humorous Abbott & Costello movie WHO DONE IT? (1942)

One other nice shot from WHO DONE IT?.  Russ’ assistant, John DeCuir additionally labored on this movie so he could have painted these?

Science fiction was an actual cash maker for Common, with these exhibits churned out by the dozen.  THIS ISLAND EARTH (1955) was manner above common for the style, and supplied many thrilling visuals and basic matte photographs.

I am fairly certain that is David Stanley Horsley manning the digicam for THIS ISLAND EARTH.  curiously, the studio sacked Horsley midway by way of the filming as a result of supposed value over runs and inner politics, ensuing is manufacturing cinematographer Cliff Stine taking on, not simply the remainder of the unfinished fx photographs, but in addition the Common photographic results division!  To not fear, as Stine had an extended ‘earlier life’ as an results cameraman at RKO and labored on issues like KING KONG and plenty of others.
Iconic imagery from THIS ISLAND EARTH, courtesy of Russ Lawson.

Additionally from THIS ISLAND EARTH.  Nice film however ends too abruptly.

Two of the a number of mattes from the extremely absorbing conflict movie THE IMPOSTER (1944).  At proper is manufacturing designer Eugene Lourie’s idea sketch for Lawson’s matte shot.  Lourie would himself grow to be a longtime results man in a while, with a particular expertise for miniatures on many a present comparable to BATTLE OF THE BULGE and KRAKATOA EAST OF JAVA.

Unique locales Russ painted for THE FLAME OF ARABY (1951).
Stately structure and set extensions for the unique SHOWBOAT (1936)

From the Rock Hudson Korean conflict flick, BATTLE HYMN (1957)
I can not make certain whether or not Russ was already at Common then however here’s a shot – more than likely a foreground glass shot – from the unique 1931 James Whale FRANKENSTEIN.  The painted ceiling has been added in, which was widespread apply for sensible functions.

Painted factories from ALL MY SONS (1948)

One other James Whale flick, GREEN HELL (1940).  My late father usually described this jungle journey to me, as his mom – my grandmother – who was very, very spiritual, completely forbade my dad from going to see a movie with “Hell” within the title, as it will certainly result in damnation and an eternity of fireplace and brimstone up the whazoo!  My dad, being the man he was, went anyway!  Miss ya’ dad!

Talking of ‘faith’, this one’s known as BACK TO GOD’S COUNTRY (1953) and starred the one actor who probably appeared in additional Lawson-matte shot footage than anybody else beneath Uni contract… one Rock Hudson.

One in all my favorite golden period matte photographs was this one from the Lon Chaney basic, THE WOLFMAN (1941).  Undecided why, however it’s all the time grabbed NZ Pete.

Two extra from THE WOLFMAN.  The matte at left was a multi-plane gag, with the mansion, midground and tree all painted on separate glasses, to provide a perspective shift as seen from a motorcar driving previous.

Two fascinating frames that Russ labored on along with his cameraman Ross Hoffman from the movie CHIEF CRAZY HORSE (1954).  The setting was designed to slowly dissolve from one time interval to a different, with a lot of every interval painted in, such because the river, prarie, distant homestead and many of the Indian tents.
Bizzarre, post-modernist design at play right here with the mattes Russ did for SON OF FRANKENSTEIN (1939).

A pair of the quite a few Technicolor mattes from the Gregory Peck saga THE WORLD IN HIS ARMS (1952).  Very good work right here.

From the slightly good (and I believe true story) THE GREAT IMPOSTER (1961) starring Tony Curtis.  Poor perspective work although.

Common-Worldwide will need to have made 100 pirate exhibits too.  Most of them forgettable, however many with results photographs, comparable to this one, THE PIRATES OF MONTEREY (1947) that includes the slightly delectable Maria Montez, who whereas no Anita Ekberg, managed to make an impression…of types.

That very same, acquainted Uni backlot homestead is used but once more, this time for the not too unhealthy Orson Welles drama MAN IN THE SHADOW (1957).  I obtained these from a cropped television print whereby the one time you get to see the total Scope matte shot was in the course of the uncropped titles.
Scores of mattes characteristic in SUDAN (1945).  Lawson’s off-sider, John DeCuir positively painted a number of the many photographs, so just a few of those may need been his.

One other iconic monster film matte shot, with this being from THE HOUSE OF DRACULA (1945)
The all the time dependable and competent Jeff Chandler made a ton of westerns and conflict movies for Common.  This one was RIDE A CROOKED TRAIL (1958), with some inventive and intelligent portray occurring right here.

I am a giant fan of previous comedy groups like Abbott & Costello – although this one was not certainly one of their higher efforts.  A & C GO TO MARS (1953) had a lot of vfx photographs and matte gags… and in addition had Anita Ekberg in a tiny bit half, so I suppose all was not misplaced!  I will be doing a particular weblog on the entire many and diverse trick photographs used within the Abbott & Costello footage sooner or later.  John Fulton and Stanley Horsley actually earned their paycheques with these.

A properly atmospheric setting from WEREWOLF OF LONDON (1935), just about all painted.
Two of the various mattes from TARAS BULBA (1962) – the one present to ever give Russ a display credit score.  I used to be instructed by Al Whitlock’s good friend, Rolf Giesen, that Al painted sure photographs as nicely on this movie.

One in all my favorite movies, the ultra-nasty jail flick BRUTE FORCE (1947) with the good Burt Lancaster and Hume Cronyn.  Various ingenious matte photographs, opticals and complicated mixture photographs are used very nicely.  A basic, and to not be missed.

Additionally from BRUTE FORCE.  John DeCuir’s son instructed me a pleasant story about visiting the set:  “I’m writing a sequence of articles that resurrect a number of the previous artwork division tales and Brute Pressure performs a job in certainly one of my tales.  I walked the Brute Pressure set however I used to be solely 6 years previous.  I do bear in mind getting patted on the top by Burt Lancaster within the elevator of the Waldorf Astoria in New York. He requested me if I needed to an actor after I grew up, I mentioned no…my mom was livid l;-))”

The exceedingly boring Tony Curtis costumer, THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH (1954) – a movie usually misquoted because the one with that horrible line by Curtis “Yonder lies the fortress of my fodda…”.  It wasn’t that line, and actually the precise terrible, comparable line in query was used (by Curtis) in SON OF ALI-BABA which additionally options on this line up of mattes...

As I mentioned earlier, I simply love the previous time comics like The Marx Brothers, Olsen & Johnson, Abbott and Costello, Laurel and Hardy and naturally the nice W.C Fields.  This shot is certainly one of many from one of the insane footage W.C Fields made, NEVER GIVE A SUCKER AN EVEN BREAK (1941) – a movie of such wild abandon it seems as if he made it up because the digicam’s have been rolling.  Completely hilarious, and pointless – and all the higher for it – as solely Fields may get away with.

Additionally from the identical W.C Fields comedy.  Let me provide you with a clue as to what’s taking place right here… nicely you see, Fields is in a industrial airliner, mid-flight and his bottle of bourbon falls out of the open(!) window of the passenger cabin, with which, any shameless drinker would do, he leaps out of the (open) window at 15’000 ft in pusuit of mentioned bottle, flailing and falling towards earth, and straight into the arms of ‘Mrs Hemoglobin’, performed by Margaret Dumont, in her mountain high retreat that may solely be ascended by rickety, block and deal with elevator!!!…. and so forth.  Then issues begin to get actual loopy!

One of many mattes that always cropped up in varied Common westerns, with this BluRay shot taken from MAN FROM THE ALAMO (1953).

I am questioning whether or not Ron Howard obtained the concept for the foolish movie SPLASH from MR PEABODY AND THE MERMAID (1948), because it’s the identical gig.  Some good mattes by Russ right here.
Good matte from the Doris Day comedy LOVER COME BACK (1961).  In all probability Lawson’s as I do not assume Whitlock was there but.

When it got here to side-splitting, off the wall, depart your mind on the door madness, few movies matched the loopy Olsen and Johnson flick HELLZAPOPPIN (1942) – one of many funniest movies I’ve seen.  The sequence proven right here (amongst a number of ingenious John Fulton vfx gags) entails the celebrities questioning what the hell is occurring (as is the viewers by this time!) and pausing to drag out a Russell Lawson matte portray, prop it up towards the wall, and permit the ‘stay motion’ to start inside the darn matte portray itself, as they sit again and watch!!  Certainly essentially the most distinctive utilization of the painted matte ever conceived.  

HELLZAPOPPIN – really a certainly one of a form, and virtually Monty Python, lengthy earlier than it is time.  I chuckled all over this one.

Common churned out dozens of Sherlock Holmes thrillers, and a few have been fairly good.  HOUSE OF FEAR (1945) had the requisite creepy abbey in a thunderstormatop the precarious cliff – as any half manner first rate thriller ought to, in fact!

The unique James Whale movie of H.G Wells’ THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933) was a staggering trick shot showcase for John Fulton, David Horsley, John Mescall and Ross Hoffman, but in addition used matte artwork in some delicate methods as nicely.  This shot is virtually all painted, with simply the doorway and backside space being actual, together with the group of individuals approaching the opposite facet of the non-existant home.

Extra sci-fi right here, from THE LAND UNKNOWN (1957)

Venice on the Common backlot, courtesy of Russ and his paintbrush, as seen in THE LOST MOMENT (1947).

The Maria Montez and Jon Corridor tropical journey WHITE SAVAGE (1943)
I mentioned the same shot within the ‘Misplaced Mattes’ pattern reels, which bore a detailed similarity to this matte from the fabulous Alfred Hitchcock chase thriller, SABOTEUR (1942).

Additionally from SABOTEUR – fairly probably my primary Hitchcock movie, and in addition certainly one of, if not the, largest visible results exhibits linked to Hitchcock.  Full of mattes, miniatures, optical gags, course of and typically all of those mixed!  Astonishingly, John P. Fulton did not even get a display credit score on this big mission!  Should have pissed him off, no finish.

Extra from SABOTEUR.  Lawson’s assistant, John DeCuir painted most of the photographs, specifically the gorgeous Statue of Liberty motion climax, which rank proper up there in film folk-history.

A lot painted ballroom additions from the obscure Boris Karloff thriller THE CLIMAX (1944).  The mattes have been higher than the movie itself.  DeCuir painted additionally on this movie.

I actually loved this oldie – THE INVISIBLE RAY (1935) with each Karloff and Lugosi!  Man, they might be nice collectively… simply try the patently freakin’ insane THE BLACK CAT (1934) for an actual expertise that defies definition in psychotic depravity.  

A terrific little film-noir, PHANTOM LADY (1944), that hit all the best notes.  Some effective mattes, moody cinematography, good performances and Elisha Cook dinner jnr!  Sufficient mentioned!!

Additionally from PHANTOM LADY.  Love this shot!  Nearly all brushwork right here.

CinemaScope spectacle from THE TARNISHED ANGELS (1957), that includes, sure, you guessed it, Rock Hudson – who’s in all probability in additional matte shot movies in Common historical past!

An oddly designed and executed matte at left from the foolish SON OF ALI-BABA (1952).  This one is the place Bernie Schwartz utters his (oft misquoted) line:  “That is my father’s palace, and yonder lies the valley of the solar”.  The road is infamously quoted in error as: “Yonder lies the fortress of my fodda” and was falsley attributed to THE BLACK SHIELD OF FALWORTH, not that it issues, however it’s lengthy held Tony Curtis Hollywood folklore

Extra gothic imagery that Russ furnished for THE HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1944), with the shot at left benefitting from the bi-packed in transferring tree foliage.

Additionally from the identical movie is that this shot – a shot that I am very keen on.  Has the very essence of the time, the style and the stylistic method of the day.

Undoubtedly one of many least spectacular ‘creature options’ from Uni was the foolish THE MOLE PEOPLE (1956) which just about failed on each depend!

THE MOLE PEOPLE habitat, although surprisingly nicely illuminated given it is 1000 ft beneath the bottom.  Not Common’s finest.
This wonderful matte appeared in each THE GOLDEN BLADE in addition to THE SON OF ALI-BABA.

Mattes from MAGNIFICENT DOLL (1946), with the set extension proven at proper being particularly good.

A lot of the previous Abbott & Costello comedies had matte photographs and different visible trick work.  This stunning shot is from PARDON MY SARONG (1942).  Good shot.

Additionally from PARDON MY SARONG, which John DeCuir’s son instructed me his dad additionally painted on.
TOWER OF LONDON (1939) had Russ portray mattes beneath George Teague who was Common visible results boss for a short while.

Stately manor dwelling matte painted for THE INVISIBLE MAN’S REVENGE (1944).

One in all scores of western forts that Russ rendered at Common.  This shot’s from WAR ARROW (1953) although I’ve seen it in different movies as nicely.

The totally fascinating spoof, ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN (1948) was, oddly, titled ABBOTT & COSTELLO MEET THE MONSTERS right here in New Zealand again within the day, presumably as a result of the truth that Dracula, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and the Invisible Man all present up!

Some slightly good Technicolor mattes from CANYON PASSGE (1946).

The basic Hollywood ballroom, with this one being from THE GOOD FAIRY (1935)

One in all many mattes present in ARABIAN NIGHTS (1942), with the decidedly cute Maria Montez.  I believe this was Common’s first go at Technicolor if I recall.  The studio weren’t too eager however relented because it was 1942 in spite of everything, and others had been working within the glories of full color for a while.

Simply the type of previous time matte photographs that attraction to me, is that this beautiful matte from THE MUMMY’S CURSE (1944), with this shot wanting virtually first era to me, such is the readability.  I’m wondering if it may need been an in-camera glass shot arrange on the sound stage because the shot seems a dozen occasions all through the very brief, barely hour lengthy, monster flick.  Cool child!

A not fully profitable jungle image, however COBRA WOMAN (1944) did have Maria Montez in it…and in vivid Technicolor.

A terrific, virtually invisible matte from THE GHOST OF FRANKENSTEIN (1942).

Though Disney’s Peter Ellenshaw was chargeable for essentially the most spectacular of all of the SPARTACUS matte photographs, with Peter’s single matte of Rome being among the many best ever dedicated to movie, Russell provided a lot of mattes to broaden the canvas, because it have been, of Stanley Kubrick’s movie.  These are two of Lawson’s photographs, with the decrease one have quite a few ‘slot gags’ to recommend background motion – not one thing generally seen in Lawson’s photographs.

Gothic temper was superbly captured in these photographs from THE STARNGE DOOR (1951), with the acute perspective within the down view being simply the ticket for NZ Pete.

Among the unique Jap motion in ALI-BABA AND THE FORTY THIEVES (1944), expanded with the matte work of Russ.
Yet one more lavish inside, this being from ARABIAN NIGHTS.


Maria Montez … the sultry and unique femme fatale who died younger, aged simply 39.  She was Common’s reply, however no equal to Dorothy Lamour – Paramount’s reigning field workplace queen of jungle & sand footage.




Earlier than we are saying goodbye to 2021, listed below are a few fascinating photographs that have been discovered on one of many pattern reels.  These are Syd Dutton mattes that have been accomplished at Common in 1984 for the Lucasfilm telemovie THE EWOK ADVENTURE-CARAVAN OF COURAGE.  The movie and it is comply with up have been each ILM affairs however I assume the workload was too nice so that they farmed out a few photographs to Common and in addition to Jim Danforth.  Check out these…

Unique plate images of stay motion.

Syd Dutton’s matte portray proven right here as a check comp.

A poor high quality picture of Syd’s portray.

The ultimate shot because it seems within the telemovie.

The masked off stay motion plate for a second EWOKS matte shot.

Momentary composite with Syd’s painted additions.

The ultimate shot.

***This put up, and all 173 earlier blogs often known as ‘Matte Shot’, have been initially created by Peter Cook dinner for nzpetesmatteshot, with all content material, structure and textual content initially revealed at http://nzpetesmatteshot.blogspot.com/

Effectively pals, that is about it for this substantial installment.  I stay up for your suggestions.  Judging from final month’s posting, the magnificent Anita Ekberg is proving extra in style than most matte exponents that I’ve lined(!!) … And rightly so, says I.   😉

Take care wherever you’re.



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